House Hearing Shows Trump Pressured State Election Officials
WASHINGTON — The House Select Committee to Investigate the Jan. 6, Attack on the U.S. Capitol held its fourth hearing Tuesday, this time revealing new evidence former President Donald Trump exerted possible illegal influence on state and federal officials to overturn the 2020 election.
Other evidence showed Trump lied after being told by his own advisors there was no voter fraud that would invalidate the election.
“Donald Trump knew it, he did it anyway,” Rep. Bennie Thompson, D-Miss., said about what he called the “Big Lie” of the former president.
As election officials denied Trump’s assertions that ballots in his favor were destroyed or that votes by illegal immigrants and dead persons were recorded in favor of Joe Biden, the former president then threatened the officials, said Thompson, who chairs the committee.
“Donald Trump worked to make sure they would face the consequences,” Thompson said.
Typically, he implied uncooperative election officials would face criminal prosecution if they did not verify his voter fraud allegations, according to lawmakers and witnesses at the hearing.
“For the first time in history, the losing presidential candidate fought to hold onto power,” said Rep. Adam Schiff, D-Calif.
He suggested Trump should face charges for “conspiracy to defraud the United States.”
“The system held, but barely,” Schiff said.
Rep. Liz Cheney, R-Wyo., described Trump’s efforts to overturn the election as multi-faceted through his political pressure and an awareness of impending violence.
“Each deserves attention by both Congress and by the Department of Justice,” Cheney said.
She added, “We cannot let America become a nation of conspiracy theories and thug violence.”
The implication from Schiff and Cheney that Trump should face criminal charges coincides with a generalized opinion expressed in an ABC News/Ipsos poll this week. It showed 58% of Americans believe Trump should be prosecuted for his role in the riot.
The lawmakers’ statements were backed up by testimony from Brad Raffensperger, Georgia’s secretary of state; Gabriel Sterling, chief operating officer of the Georgia secretary of state’s office; and Rusty Bowers, Arizona’s speaker of the House. All of them are Republicans.
Trump lost in both Georgia and Arizona but exerted intense pressure on state officials to overturn the results, according to the three men.
Trump told Raffensperger in a Jan. 2, 2021, phone call that was played during the hearing that he should “find” enough votes to show he beat Biden in Georgia.
Instead, Raffensperger denied voter fraud and assured Trump the count showing Biden beat him by 12,000 votes was accurate. As a result, he said he received death threats and a censure by the state Republican Party.
“I followed the law, I followed the Constitution,” Raffensperger said.
His account was backed up by Sterling, who oversaw the installation and operation of voting machines in Georgia.
After the former president was assured by Raffensperger there was no voter fraud, a video clip played by the committee during the hearing showed Trump saying, “They defrauded us out of a win in Georgia and we’re not going to forget it.”
In Arizona, Bowers said he received a phone call from Trump and his attorney, Rudy Giuliani, in late November 2020 asking him to have the state Legislature replace the presidential electors who gave the win to Biden.
Electors cast votes in the Electoral College that are supposed to be consistent with the popular votes in the districts they represent. The Electoral College vote determines who wins the presidential election.
Instead, Bowers said he told Trump, “You’re asking me to do something to break my oath and I will not break my oath.”
He also denied Trump’s claim that Bowers had told the former president the Arizona election was rigged in Biden’s favor.
Other testimony during the hearing came from electors who said they felt threatened by Trump’s supporters.
A video clip showed protesters outside one elector’s house shouting “Stop the Steal.”
“That was the scariest moment, not knowing what was going to happen,” she told the committee.